Farm attacks in South Africa are unique and need a special response.

They are far more brutal than normal crimes like robbery (and even murder).


Because they involve extreme, excessive, deliberate violence often without a material reason, making them quite different from other violent crimes.

Quick historical context

South Africa’s recent history starts with the Dutch East India Company setting up coastal trading posts. Dutch settlers arrived, initially rarely clashing with the natives (Khoisans).

In the 17th century, Dutch settlers seeking freedom moved north.

By around 1852, they established the South African Republic (Transvaal Republic) and the Orange Free State in 1854, known as Boer Republics. These republics clashed with expanding Bantu tribes (like the Zulus) and the British Empire.

The Boers were mostly farmers. (The word ‘Boer’ means ‘farmer’.)

The pink and peach regions were controlled by the British

White South Africans are often seen as one group by the media, but there are historically two main types in South Africa: Afrikaans-speaking Afrikaners and English-speaking British.

These two groups had serious punch-ups, especially after the British took over the Boer Republics.

Furthermore, telling Afrikaners to “go home” makes no sense. They aren’t Dutch and have no ties to the Netherlands. In fact, in many parts of South Africa, Afrikaners have been around longer than the Bantus, and have a stronger claim to the land. Many Afrikaners bought land from Khoisans, while Bantus often conquered land from other Bantus or Khoisans.

Extreme violence

Mainstream media typically doesn’t cover the reality of South African farm attacks. This might be because the majority of the farmers are white and the attackers are predominantly black.

Kill All Whites

Consider the following farm attacks.

  • In 2012, a 12-year-old boy witnessed his parents’ murder (including his mother’s rape) before being drowned in boiling water.
  • A 56-year-old grandmother endured gang rape during a robbery that yielded approximately R40,000 ($2,000).
  • A woman was sexually abused by five men for an hour-and-a-half in front of her 5-year-old son.
  • Over six hours, a woman was tortured, including having her skin cut off, raped, and her feet drilled.
  • A 66-year-old man was beaten to death in front of his wife, who avoided gang rape by claiming she had HIV.
  • Alice Lotter, 76, and her daughter Helen, 57, were tortured to death over several hours, including genital mutilation with a broken glass bottle, and one having a breast cut off while alive. ‘Kill the Boer’ (‘kill the farmer’) was written in their blood on the wall.
  • In 2014, a guy called Knowledge Mandlazi went on a killing spree, murdering five white farmers, motivated by his self-confessed hatred for whites.

Fighting back

The importance of the agricultural sector in food production, jobs, and economic stability turns farm attacks into threats to national well-being.

Therefore, farm protection is not just a law enforcement issue, but also a national security and economic concern.

The Commandos

The removal of the Commandos, a rural defence force, has left many farms unprotected. Their disbandment in 2003 removed a key element of rural security, leading to increased vulnerability and higher crime rates in some rural areas.

The Commando System in South Africa operated mainly as a voluntary, part-time force within the South African Army, but these units frequently functioned as a local militia, supporting and working under the South African Police’s authority.

Theo de Jager is a South African farmer.

He is also Executive Director at Southern African Agri Initiative (SAAI) and was, until recently, the president of the World Farmers’ Organisation.

The brutality of these farm attacks is disproportionate to other forms of violent crime.

Ian Cameron, (former) Head of Community Safety for AfriForum

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